Iron Deficiency - Health Chef Julia

Iron Deficiency: Sources For Vegans and Vegetarians

June 17, 2022

Are you following a vegan or plant-based diet? If you are, it is important to measure and improve your daily intake of iron. 

Iron is a vital mineral for our body. It is the principal component of hemoglobin, a hemoprotein found in red blood cells, that allows oxygen to get to all your tissues and muscles. Iron deficiency can cause fatigue, weakness, anxiety, irritability, hair loss, anemia, and depression.

Iron is naturally found in animal protein, that’s why many vegans and vegetarians struggle to meet their daily iron needs. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find this mineral in vegetables, seeds, and grains. 

While it requires more planning, we can get all the iron we need from plant-based options. 

Improve iron absorption 

First, we need to differentiate the two kinds of sources of this mineral: heme and non-heme. Heme is found in animal proteins like meat, poultry, and seafood. Non-heme iron is found in plant foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens.

The issue with Non-heme iron is that it is harder for your body to absorb. This happens because of phytates and oxalates in plants, which can block some of their nutrients. 

To improve the absorption of plant-based iron, we need to pair it with other components. For example, vitamin C and vitamin A have proven to be great companions for iron-rich veggies. 

Furthermore, foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, bell peppers, melons, and strawberries. Good food sources of vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, squash, red peppers, cantaloupe, apricots, oranges, and peaches.

Other iron sources you can try

Fortified cereals, rice, wheat, and oats

Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale

Dried fruits like raisins and apricots

Beans like lentils and soybeans

Pumpkin seeds 

Brussels sprouts

Arugula

Tofu 

Dark chocolate 

Check out my Instagram for fun, easy cooking ideas you can make at home.

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